You got your first negative review on Amazon?

When that happens, all is not lost. You can take steps to limit, and in some cases even eliminate, the damage.

That's important because reviews do have an impact on sales. Consider the following stats:

Product reviews can lead to an 18% lift in sales

84% of online shoppers view online reviews as personal testimonies

Customer reviews are trusted more than product descriptions by a factor of 12

Here are some tips for handling negative reviews.

Smother Bad Reviews With Good Ones

If you don't like those bad reviews, conquer them with good ones!

That helps because your overall star rating is an average of all the individual star reviews. So if you've got a couple of 1-star reviews in the midst of 50 or more 4- and 5- star reviews, your product will still look great to shoppers.

Of course, this raises the question: how do you get good reviews?

For starters, offer a great product with outstanding customer service. That always helps.

If you find that people are stubbornly refusing to leave reviews, though, you can solicit them.

Keep in mind: you will violate Amazon's terms of service if you ask for good reviews in exchange for any kind of incentive, such as a free or discounted product. That's not the way to do it.

You can, however, ask for honest reviews without offering anything in exchange.

One way to do that is with marketing inserts. Just include a card-sized note in the package you ship to the customer that asks for a review of the product.

It's a good idea to create a shortened URL of the review page and include it on the marketing insert. That's so customers won't have to type out an unusually long Amazon URL.

You could also ask for a review in an email campaign to existing customers. Be sure to include a clickable link to the review page in the email.

Monitor Your Reviews

To ensure that you keep up with bad reviews, you're going to need to keep tabs on your product reviews periodically.

If you're the typical overworked online marketer, that's going to take a lot of time out of your schedule. Fortunately, there are tools that can make your life easier.

Both AMZTracker and FeedbackFive allow you to monitor product reviews. They'll cost you some money but save you a lot of time.

Respond to Bad Reviews

Once you spot a bad review, respond to it. But keep your brand identity in mind when doing so. You always want to be politically correct, think of the bigger picture and never pick a fight.

You might never have noticed it before, but there's a comment feature right below each review. You can use it to reach out to customers who left bad reviews.

Leave a comment that begins with an apology for the customer's bad experience. Reaffirm your commitment to customer service and add a link or email address so the customer can contact you privately.

It's probably best to handle the issue in a private exchange. You don't want to air your dirty laundry (or your customer's dirty laundry) out in the open.

The best thing to do is to invest whatever resources you need to make the customer happy. Sure, it will be expensive, but that's the nature of business these days.

Contact the Reviewer

Sometimes, you might want to contact the reviewer directly. That can be difficult, though.

For starters, if the reviewer is using a handle instead of his or her real name, you might have trouble even identifying the person.

If you make too much of an effort at learning the person's true identity, you could come across as a stalker.

If you do know the person's real identity, it's possible that you can identify the person on one or more social media channels. Then, you can reach out.

Make sure the tone in your message is very polite. If it looks like you're harassing somebody for leaving a bad review, you're going to get into trouble.

Instead, apologize for the bad experience and ask what you can do to make things right.

Eliminate Bad Reviews

You can make bad reviews disappear.

Of course, it's not easy to make bad reviews disappear, but it can be done.

When you work with someone who left a bad review to remedy the situation, it's possible that person can do one of two things:

Update the bad review so that it's better

Remove the bad review completely

Of those two options, you want the customer to update the bad review. That way, your overall rating score will improve.

However, the customer might just decide to eliminate the bad review completely. That will lower your total number of reviews but give a boost to your overall score.

Ask Amazon to Remove a Review

You can get Amazon to remove a review. That's not something you should count on, though.

Why? Because Amazon only removes reviews if they violate the company's guidelines. Reviews with foul language, advertisements for competing products, or no explanation for a low star rating all qualify for removal.

If you see what you think is a bogus review, just click on "Report Abuse" and explain why you think it should be removed.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to bad reviews on Amazon, it has nothing to do with Vendor Central, Seller Central or Vendor Express (which are the main ways to manage your Amazon account). It has everything to do with your product, shipping and experience.

Don't let bad reviews sink your online marketing efforts. Instead, respond to them by reaching out to the reviewers. If that fails, see if any of the negative reviews violate Amazon's guidelines and report them as abuse.